A Belated Bride

A Belated Bride

by Karen Hawkins

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She'd Never Marry Him!
The last man Arabella Hadley ever wishes to see again is Lucien Deveraux, the handsome, dissolute Duke of Wexford — who broke her innocent heart years ago and disappeared to London. So when she finds an unconscious man on her deserted country road and sees that it's Lucien, she's tempted to leave him there. But even more appalling than his presence is the brazen kiss he plants on her shocked lips and her response! So it would be totally insane to take him home to recover — wouldn't it?

Except For One Small Thing...
Lucien dares not reveal why he's returned to his country estate — or why he abandoned the strong-willed beauty years ago. Especially since Arabella clearly has secrets of her own. But when her scheming, marriage-minded aunts successfully compromise them, the two are forced to become man and wife. Which makes it ever harder for both to battle the passion that never disappeared...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380815258
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/30/2008
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 632,709
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Karen Hawkins was raised in Tennessee, a member of a huge extended family that included her brother and sister, an adopted sister, numerous foster siblings, and various exchange students. In order to escape the chaos (and while hiding when it was her turn to do the dishes), she would huddle under the comforter on her bed with a flashlight and a book, a habit she still embraces to this day.

Read an Excerpt

A Belated BrideChapter One

Yorkshire, England
November 1815

"Lawks, Wilson! Why'd ye go an' do that?"

The carriage jolted to a sudden halt, sending a basketof raspberry jam crashing to the floor. In alarm, Arabella Hadley threw open the carriage door and peered through the night gloom. "Ned? What's happened?"

"Come quick, Miss Hadley!" the stable hand called. A stout, simple lad of seventeen, he also served as footman, errand boy, cook's assistant, and did every other odd job Arabella could not afford to hire out. "Wilson's done it agin."

The old groom's voice lifted in protest. "Hush your blatherin, boy! There's no need to call the missus."

Arabella stepped across the spilled jam and clambered out of the carriage. She only hoped Wilson hadn't run over another hapless pig. Lord Harlbrook still hadn't recovered from the loss of his prize livestock from last month. She halted when she came to the front of the carriage. "Why have we stopped?"

Ned pointed to Wilson, who stood muttering to one side of the coach. "He was drivin' the coach like a madman agin, and —"

"I was not," Wilson protested.

"Were, too. As we came. round the comer, it musta frightened the man's horse cause it jus' bolted up and —"

"What man?" Arabella interrupted.

Wilson pointed with a grubby hand to the side of the road.

Arabella turned with apprehension. In the dim light, she could just make out the form of a large man lying prone in the dirt. Her heart sank when she noted his multicaped coat and the unmistakable gleam of a costly pair of Hessians, shined to mirrored perfection.

"Heavens!" she managed in a faintvoice. "Is he...dead?"

"Lawks, no." Willson jerked his thumb toward a fat,

craggy tree. "He jus' smacked his head on that branchwhen his horse reared."

The low-slung limb quivered as if still recoiling from the blow. Thank God Wilson hadn't run over the poor man; the last thing she needed was the attention of the local constabulary.

The old groom poked at the man with the tip of his worn boot. "Must not have much of a seat, to lose controlof his mount."

"A green 'un'" agreed Ned. "Pity his horse ran off. Master Robert would have liked such a prime goer."

"The last thing my brother needs is a horse that rears at the slightest provocation," Arabella said in a dry tone.

"Give me the lantern. I must see how badly this poor man is injured."

"Don't get too close," warned Wilson from a safe distance. "He might come awake and be none too happy to find hisself a-lyin' on the ground."

"If he lunges at me, I give you full perrnission to shoot him." Arabella bent to examine the man by the lantern's light. "Judging by the quality of his clothing, he must be a gentleman of some means."

Wilson snorted. "He may look a gent, but ye ne'er know. Don't get any closer, Miss Arabella. Lady Durham and Lady Melwin would never forgive us if anything happened to you."

Arabella thought her aunts would be more upset that they had not been present for such an exciting episode. Aunt Emma and Aunt Jane were both addicted to flights of romantic fancy. Fortunately, life had cured Arabella of that fault long, long ago.

She bent closer to the fallen man. He lay on his side, his broad shoulders rising and falling in a reassuringly steady rhythm. Black as midnight, his hair fell across a large purple lump on his brow, while the rest of his face remained obscured by the folds of a woolen muffler.

The wind rose, carrying with it the faintest taste of snow. Arabella shivered and tugged her cloak closer. She had little choice but to take their guest back to Rosemont. Her aunts would look after him until the doctor could be sent for.

As Arabella was turning away from the fallen man, something caught the light. A gold signet ring set with a huge square-cut emerald glittered on the stranger's shapely hand. Hardly aware of what she was doing, she set the lantern on the frozen road and sank to her knees.

Sweet heaven, it can't be. Every thought in her mind froze.

"Look at that gewgaw!" Wilson said, awed. "Must be a nabob, to have a ring like that." His brow creased. "Ye don't think he'll be angry at me fer scarin' his horse, do ye?"

Her heart pounding in her ears, Arabella barely heard the groom's words. She reached for the muffler, numbed as if she were in a dream. Just as her fingers closed over the wool, a powerful hand enclosed her wrist like a band of warmed steel. The man's eyes opened and met hers.

Slumberous and seductive, his gaze held her prisoner. Framed by thick curling lashes, his green eyes were as beautiful as an angel's.

She knew those eyes. Knew them better, perhaps, than her own. She knew, too, what she would see beneath the muffler: golden skin and a bold, patrician nose over a sensuous mouth designed for forbidden pleasures.

"Lucien. " The forgotten feel of his name whispered across her stiff lips. Though his hand still gripped her wrist, she pulled the muffler free, her knuckles brushing against his stubbled jaw. A bolt of raw heat lanced through her fingers and settled in her breasts, then slid lower.

Arabella hunched her shoulders at the strength of her reactions, panic rising. God help her, but she was still under his spell. With a strength she didn't know she possessed, she yanked her hand free, cradling it to her chest as if burned.

His gaze flickered and his mouth curved in a lazy smile.

But Arabella refused to respond. Whatever she may be, she was no longer an inexperienced miss of sixteen. "Damn you, Lucien. Why did you come back...

A Belated Bride. Copyright © by Karen Hawkins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Belated Bride 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am sorry, but I am sick and tired of these romance novels where you are supposed to fall in love with a hero who has been a total jerk! My biggest romantic fantasy is not to be deserted after I give myself to my love; he then runs off and marries some other woman without any sort of explanation leaving me with my heart broken, facing censure and ruin. Here’s the thing about the subtext of this, even after his wife dies, and he was a jerk to the woman he married too, he never intends to be man enough to go back to Arabella, he ends up with her by accident. He then remembers what a hot little piece she is and wants to get back with her, still thinking he couldn’t possibly marry her, for her own good of course. It is only when her life is in danger that he finally decides to marry her, and instead of being a man and talking it all out with her, he compromises and humiliates her in order to bring about a wedding! And this is all supposed to be OK? My biggest complaint with this book is that Arabella finally forgives Lucien because he expresses so much regret. I am sorry, but if he wasn't man enough to figure out his responsibility to her 10 years ago, then the next time the chips are down he's going to do the same thing! Men who don't put the supposed love of their life first in the beginning don't change! Writers should stop writing that they do! It is completely un-romantic! I was with Arabella in the beginning; I hate this guy, what a total Jerk! That aside, Karen Hawkins is a really great writer and has much better books than this one.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1814 Yorkshire, England, the groom took the turn too fast frightening the horse of Lucien Deveraux, the Duke of Wexford. The carriage¿s passenger, Lady Arabella Hadley recognizes the injured Due as the person who seduced her and broke her heart a decade ago. Though tempted to leave Lucien for the mice to dine on, she takes him so that her elderly aunts can take care of him.

Though he feels guilty for abandoning Arabella years ago, Lucien finds himself unable to resist beginning anew with her. Besides his obvious reaction to Arabella, Lucien feels she might be involved with espionage and smuggling, the reason he is in the area. As they begin to become reacquainted, their former love rekindles, but he is on an investigation that probably involves her or a loved one and she has secrets too, making a permanent relationship unattainable. THE BELATED BRIDE is an amusing Regency romance. The story line is humorous due to the lunatic antics of Arabella¿s aunts who serve as the antidote to the grave-like personalities of the lead couple. Though a few too many subplots slow down what is otherwise a fast-paced fun to read tale, Karen Hawkins shows she is a talented author that sub-genre fans will enjoy reading.

Harriet Klausner

Susan Plowman More than 1 year ago
Liked her other books better. Kind of a slow read.
traveler_bell More than 1 year ago
I have read a lot of better books by Karen Hawkins. I was more interested in her seconday characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Hawkins has done it again! What a delightful cast of characters she has put together to support the tale of Lady Arabella and Lucien, Duke of Wexford. Arabella and Lucien had an ill fated young love affair that, because of family difficulties, never had the chance to play itself out. Ten years later, Arabella has the misfortune to literally run into, and almost over, her first love and she must now fight the overwhelming urge to renew those feelings, while remembering the bitterness and hurt from his earlier betrayal. Now toss in two matchmaking looney bird elderly Aunts and you have a fast read, unable to put down, novel. This was one very enjoyable read. Bravo Ms. Hawkins. This is a keeper to re-read again at a later date. Can't wait to see what you come up with next!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Karen Hawkins has done it again. She has written a book that is almost impossible to put down once you start it. It is very funny, very tasteful, dramatic and best of all fun. I am going to put this on my keeper shelf and eagerly await Ms. Hawkins' next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Karen Hawkins second book is a January release from Avon entitled A Belated Bride. In this wonderful, humorous Regency-era romp, Karen has proven that the success of her first novel, The Abduction of Julia, was no mistake. Arabella Hadley has plenty of secrets, as well as two elderly aunts, a wheelchair bound brother, and a estate full of servants and tenants that she¿s trying to protect. What she certainly doesn¿t need is an injured duke lying around the house to upset her routine. Especially this duke. Lucien Deveraux stole her heart and then stomped on it ten years ago. Even though the Christian thing to do is rescue an injured man lying along the road on that dark night, once Arabella discovers his identity, she begins to wish she¿d left him tofend for himself. Once Lucien discovers where he is, he decides to use the obvious interest of Arabella¿s aunts to his advantage ¿ both to hide his own secrets and to learn more about Arabella¿s life in the years since he had to marry another. Once Lucien is firmly ensconced in the family home, Arabella has a devil of a time trying to kick him out. Her aunts have decided he is the perfect mate for Arabella and her brother has finally shown some interest in life again. However, the temptation of Lucien is more than poor Arabella can stand; she never quite managed to free her heart of his memories, even after he married another woman. In this funny, tender, and enjoyable ride through the English countryside and the lives of these two independent and resilient characters, Karen Hawkins has created a world that leaves us wanting more. The drama is exciting, the sexual chemistry is riveting, and the characters, from the hero and heroine down to Arabella¿s meddling aunts and crippled brother, Lucien¿s eccentric sister, and all the people working and living on or near Rosemont, can¿t help but worm their way into our hearts. Definitely don¿t miss this latest and endearing tale from a talented new author. Great job, Karen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I believe I'm reading belated bride by Karen Hawkins ...umm and I believe this is in england not some island, beach..so what the hell is up with this ann person's book for review's???
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He leaves her without even saying goodbye. 10 years later he just happens to be in the neighberhood and thinks they should start up where they left off. What a jerk! She actually starts falling for the creep. Horrble romance. This a book abook about lust and selfishness not love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will read more of the author's work
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lovetoread75HM More than 1 year ago
It is a book from one of my all time favorite authors and she didnt disappoint me this time either. The story line is very intriguing with lots of wittiness and sweet romance..Definitely page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very cute story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has it all.
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Good read.
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